Learning Gifts

Most often, a werewolf must either petition a particular spirit to teach her its powers or ask an elder to summon that spirit on her behalf. Traditionally, the Garou first travels to a caern with a power level equal to or greater than that of the desired Gift to petition the spirit personally - to do otherwise is to defy tradition, which risks incurring the wrath of the spirit. But as more caerns fall to the talons of the Wyrm, many Garou are forced to make do with whatever places of power they can find, or even to summon spirits outside of caerns completely. Such slighted spirits often demand recompense or service before consenting to share their blessings.

Other Garou, lacking access to a ritemaster capable of summoning spirits at all, must track down potential mentors and petition them directly in the Umbra. The manifold dangers of such ventures include offending the spirit in its home or mistaking a hostile spirit for a friendly one.

Although werewolves speak of “learning” and “teaching” Gifts, the process is more akin to a blessing than a period of instruction. The spirit infuses some of its nature into the Garou, imbuing her with a portion of its mystical talents. Young Wendigo don’t struggle to bend the wind to their will under a spirit’s stern gaze until they get it right — an air elemental blows into the werewolf’s soul until bending the wind to his will becomes an essential feature of what the Garou is, just as it is for the spirit.

Because of the mystic nature of this communion, learning Gifts is normally fast and simple, taking an hour on average, and no more than a night in even the most complex cases.

Werewolves are also capable of teaching Gifts to one another, but this process is neither fast nor easy. Learning a Gift from another Garou is a long process of trial and error, of attempting to achieve communion with another werewolf and emulate the shape of his soul. At best, the process takes a full lunar month. Most elders strongly discourage this practice, viewing it as unacceptably risky on a number of levels. Wielding incomplete mastery of Gifts such as Silver Claws, for example, can be not only painful, but dangerous to the Garou and to others in his pack or sept. Moreover, the level and depth of sustained intimacy necessary for werewolves to teach Gifts to one another can strain the bounds of the Litany, and more than a few metis have resulted from tutoring sessions gone too far.

Once learned, Gifts cannot be forgotten; they become as much a part of the werewolf as her ability to speak or walk. Some Galliards recount tales of Incarnae or Celestines revoking the Gifts of their servants from Garou who terribly offend them; but other tales speak of arrogant and haughty werewolves abusing the Gifts of the spirit world with impunity. As their extinction draws closer, few Garou consider it prudent to trust to the spirit world to deliver justice to those who would misuse its blessings, preferring to take matters into their own claws.